At a time when the car industry is forced to contort and adapt on what often seems like a weekly basis, Alpina feels a more reassuring presence than ever.
After all, you’ll soon have the option of buying an SUV from Ferrari, there are already plenty of purely electric Porsches on the road and AMG will drop the cylinder count from eight not to six but four for its next super-saloon.
Yet Alpina’s latest B3, tested here in Touring form, wants only to reprise the qualities for which the marque is known. Those being six amply blown cylinders, refined road manners to match a sumptuous interior, and an understated exterior underwritten by monumental performance.
The extent of that performance is something we’re all too keen to assess, not least because this is the first time that Alpina has taken a bona fide BMW M engine for its conversion of an regular BMW model. Alpina also has quiet hopes that the B3 will, for the first time in the company’s 55-year history, help bring total volumes for the brand to comfortably more than 2000 cars per year – useful at a time when development costs are rising fast.
It asks almost £70,000 for this Touring model, so any newcomers to the brand will expect a machine palpably more special than the BMW M340i Touring on which the car is based and something with even broader everyday appeal. It’s no simple task and the B3 Touring must also fend off similarly priced and excellent rivals in the Audi RS4 Avant and Mercedes-AMG C63 Estate.
However, arguably this car’s most fierce competitor will come from the firm with which Alpina enjoys a unique relationship, to the extent that assembly lines are shared, as well as model blueprints, often years in advance of any public or media awareness. In 2022, BMW will offer its first ever M3 Touring.